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Americans: Syrian visa at Turkish border?


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Holds PhD in Packing
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Joined: January 26th, 2005

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  • Added on: August 28th, 2010
Hey there,

I'm an American currently living in Turkey and considering taking a volunteer job in Palestine. If I decide to go for it, I'd love to go overland through Syria and Jordan to get there, but I've heard really mixed things about the likelihood of getting a Syrian visa at the border. Some people say it's almost a guarantee that I can get one, but I'll probably have to wait around for 2-24 hours depending on how grumpy the border officials are feeling that day. Well, no problem. I've got time. Other people think that Americans can no longer (as of a few months ago) ever get a visa coming in overland from Turkey and I should just forget about it and fly, as heading to DC isn't really an option for me and I'd really rather not send my passport back, either.

Anyone have recent experience with this?




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Extra Pages in Passport
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Joined: August 20th, 2003
Location: Edmonton, Canada

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  • Added on: August 29th, 2010
The policy is pretty straightforward, and has been for many years: if you have an embassy in your home country, you cannot get a visa at the border. There is a Syrian embassy in Washington, ergo no visas at the border for you. There have been over the years occasional posts on this board of Americans being turned around.

Policy does not predict actual results. There've also been stories of Kiwis getting turned around, even though official policy says they should be able to get in.

You might get lucky, or slip the right person some cash (risky...really don't want to get the honourable guy who will send you to prison for attempted bribery), or something and get in. This has long been the case, and I'd bet a fair chunk of money that nothing has changed, and there will still be the occasional success story to keep people hoping.

On the whole the course of action I'd suggest is:
1 - go to the nearest consulate or embassy, and attempt to get an advance visa. Looks like that means either Istanbul or Ankara. In theory, if you are a legal resident in Turkey, and not just on a tourist visa, you should be able to get one. But again, actual results may vary from official policy in either direction.
2 - If you can't get one, attempt to cross the border. Don't do anything illegal like bribery, just be polite and try to get a visa. Be persistent.
3 - If this fails, fly.

In this whole process, never, ever mention an intention of visiting Palestine.


Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: October 8th, 2010

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  • Added on: October 12th, 2010
I have a similar question...
I am an American who has been living in Romania for the past 3 years. I applied for a Syrian visa about 5 weeks ago and have gotten no response (they said it would take 1 month). I applied through Romania as I was living there at the time, but I waited as long as possible for visa approval and had to leave to start traveling (I'm currently in Istanbul). Everything I am reading says that they are no longer issuing visas to Americans at the border. I was planning on going to Lebanon and Jordan through Syria and I don't know I can afford to fly all these places.

So I guess I have a few questions... Has anyone had luck lately getting a visa at the border from Turkey? And if my visa is approved through Romania can I pick up the visa here in Turkey? The Embassy in Romania said "Yes" then "No"... I would appreciate any wisdom on the issue! Thanks!


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Thorn Tree Refugee
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Joined: December 21st, 2010

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  • Added on: December 21st, 2010
Syria is more than happy to grant visas, but getting one on the border is risky. I had to call their embassy everyday for a week to remind them I was leaving soon & needed my passport back (it arrived w the visa the day before I left). Anyway, I arrived at the turkey/syria border w a brit who didn't have a visa and he had about a 12 hour wait at the border while the officials contacted Ankara & arranged one. I only had a 2 or 3 hour interrogation and was let through. Once you're in youll realize that despite the chaos, Syria is probably one of the safest and friendliest countries, beautiful, exotic, strange and fascinating. Go there and you won't be disappointed, inshallah!


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Joined: August 20th, 2003
Location: Edmonton, Canada

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  • Added on: December 22nd, 2010
earthman33 wrote:I only had a 2 or 3 hour interrogation and was let through.
You had a visa and still had a 3 hour interrogation?!


I just turned up, showed my visa and was through in a matter of minutes.

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